Saturday, 17 August 2019

32 by 32 Bucketlist

32 by 32 Bucketlist

Here's my list of 32 things I want to do before I turn 32!

★ Finish this bucketlist! :)
★ Drop a dress size.
Create my own font.
★ Go to the cinema.
★ Enter 12 creative competitions.
★ Put up my Mountfield dollhouse, it's only been on my to do list for 4 years now...
★ Repaint the hall, landing, and stairwell.
★ Write 365 blog posts.
★ Paint a picture.
★ Read 64 books.
★ Visit the library 32 times.
★ Dye my hair.
★ Watch 32 new (to me!) films.
★ Fold an origami animal.
★ Go out to dinner.
★ Write 32,000 words of fiction.
★ Complete a jigsaw puzzle.
★ Finish overhauling the front garden.
★ Bake a cake.
★ Reach level 100 on Disney Emoji Blitz.
★ And level 70 on Board Kings.
★ Write 320 action letters.
★ Walk along the beach.
★ Sew a doll outfit.
★ Win a competition.
★ Go bowling.
★ Make a bag.
★ Drink only water for a week.
★ Go to a conference.
★ Have a go at clay miniatures.
★ Go swimming.
★ Do 5 brand collabs.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Friday Five: Films of the 1950s

Friday Five


My favourite five films from the 1950s...

#5. Three Men in a Boat (1956)

Jerome K Jerome is one of my favourite writers of all time. This light hearted adaption of his best known work had to be on my list.

#4. Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)

This is a really sweet feel good film, all about realising that your parents might be embarrassing af but they only want the best for you. ♥

#3. The Smallest Show on Earth (1957)

Newlyweds Matt and Jean have just inherited a run down fleapit of a cinema - and its staff - from Matt's eccentric great uncle. But, in order to sell it and get on with their lives, they need to make it enough of a success for a rival cinema owner to buy them out. Cue lots of suitably zany hijinks!

#2. Rear Window (1954)

This is my favourite Hitchcock film. Not only is the atmosphere perfect, I just love the idea of that patchwork of other people's lives all intersecting in one place and time.

#1. Some Like It Hot (1959)

It's a classic for a reason! I love anything with fake identities, people having to try and be in two places at once, etc, etc, so add Marilyn Monroe and some fab flapper fashions to the mix and it has to be a winner. Plus, it spawned one of the best quotes ever:

I'm gonna level with you. We can't get married at all. - Why not?
Well, in the first place, I'm not a natural blonde. - Doesn't matter.
I smoke. I smoke all the time! - I don't care.
Well, I have a terrible past. For three years now I've been living with a saxophone player. - I forgive you.
I can never have children! - We can adopt some.
I'm a man. - Well, nobody's perfect.

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Friday Five

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Recycling in Torfaen

Recycling in Torfaen

I'm not much of an environmentalist - much to the despair of family members and colleagues alike - but I am an avowed cheapskate, and luckily the two objectives have a lot of overlap. I've been meaning to write a post collating local recycling options for ages, but I've finally been given a push by joining the new Zero Waste Torfaen facebook group and the fantastic website it's spawned.

So, yeah, here is my post of how to recycle and make money or help a good cause - especially from the stuff they won't take at the kerbside. But, before that, here's what the council will and won't recycle...

Kerbside collection in Torfaen consists of the blue bag (cardboard / brown packaging paper / coloured tissue paper), the green bin (garden waste but no soil or rubble), brown caddy (food waste), yellow bag (nappies), the purple lidded bin (for anything that can't be recycled), and the black box. The black box is the primary method of recycling in Torfaen and currently accepts:

Cartons (Fruit Juice, Children’s Drinks, UHT Milk/Milkshake, Soup)
Catalogues, Books, Newspapers, Magazines and Telephone Directories
Clothes, Textiles and Paired Shoes (please bag)
Empty Aerosols (no spray paint or industrial aerosols)
Foil (clean)
Food Tins and Drink Cans
Glass Jars and Bottles
Paper, Mail (including envelopes with plastic windows), Greetings Cards
Plastic (e.g. yoghurt pots, ice cream and margarine tubs, microwave food trays, detergent bottles, plastic lids)

They won't take:

Broken Glass
Heat Treated Glass (Drinking Glasses, Pyrex, Corningware, etc)
Plastic Bags
Pringles Tubes
Polystyrene, Plastic Film, Cling Film
Toys, Flower Pots, Seed Trays, Coat Hangers, Crisp Packets
Wrapping Paper (but here's a blog post with 31 suggestions of things to do with it!)

Bulky waste can be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre in New Inn. If you don't have transport you can pay to get it collected which costs from £28. If you have no money try British Heart Foundation and Circulate Recycling who'll pick up furniture and electricals (in sellable condition) for free, and the local scrap metal guys will take broken appliances (bar fridge/freezers).

Sadly, if your stuff is junk you just get an unwieldy garden decoration to deal with until you can get the cash together...

Torfaen Recycling

Donate or Sell?

Good condition donations are wanted by charity shops throughout Torfaen. We usually take ours to the St David's Hospice Care Drop Off Centre in Cwmbran because it's close and convenient, but there are shops for St. David's, Trac2All Creatures Great and Small, Shaw Trust, Cancer Research, British Heart Foundation, Ty Hafan, British Red Cross, Hospice of the Valleys, etc, etc.

That's without even mentioning the innumerable school fetes, church bazaars and fundraising jumble sales held throughout the year.

Selling stuff on is always an option too. Car boot sales, eBay, Facebook Buy and Sell Groups. If you just want to get rid of it check out places like Freegle and Freecycle. One man's trash is another's treasure - aka someone out there will be grateful to take that bag of plastic coat hangers off your hands!

If you're willing to put in the time and faff of collecting, listing, selling, posting, etc, you can sell just about anything. This is Money put together a table of how much you can expect to get for various household items in 2017 which still holds as a rough guide:

Sell household waste

The biggest problems, IME, is finding the space and the patience. I've tried it in the past but then switched to receipt apps as my main source of accumulating a few pennies. I still collect some items to sell - glass jars and bottles will always find a market - but other than that I now concentrate on things which I know will make a difference; e.g. crisp packets which would otherwise be general waste, and milk bottle tops for charity.

(If you do have space to spare and are not interested in making money out of it, take a look at Terracycle's current collection schemes.)

Charity Shops Infographic

Food and Packaging

Crisp packets can be recycled by Terracycle or are collected by some charities to be turned into shock blankets and the like. There are lots of collection points around Torfaen; for a full list click HERE.

A lot of the plastic that can't go in the black box - bubble wrap, plastic carrier bags, bread bags, plastic ring joiners from multipacks, wrap used on food/toilet roll/magazines, etc - can be put in the recycling collection points at Sainsburys and Morrisons in Cwmbran.

Used Tassimo and L'OR Nespresso coffee pods can be taken to Co-Op Funeral Care in Pontnewydd.

Pet food and baby food pouches are being collected by Samantha Price in Varteg for Ellie's Fund, which raises money for children with brain tumours. Baby food pouches can also be sent to Ella's Kitchen for recycling - click to find out more.

You can recycle confectionery wrappers too - find your nearest collection point HERE.

Brita water filters can be recycled at Tesco (Pontypool), Sainsbury's (Cwmbran), and Argos (Cwmbran and Pontypool).

Henllys Rotary Club are collecting plastic milk bottle tops to raise money for End Polio.

Go through your cupboards and see if there's any food you're not going to use. Eastern Valley Foodbank has collection points in Cwmbran and Pontypool. If you've no spare money to buy food for donation, consider collecting promotional freebies offered by the shopping apps and donating those.

Pringles tubes cannot currently be recycled, but you can send the official ones freepost to Terracycle for recycling. See the Pringles website for more info. The plastic lids can go in the black box but, actually, these are super useful if you keep hold of them. You can use them as lids for food tins, for example, which is great for storing opened tins in the fridge. For 40 other ideas check out One Good Thing.

If you take a reusable mug / flask with you stores often offer a discount. You get 20p off in Greggs, 25p in Starbucks, 25p in Costa, 25p in M&S café, and 50p at Pret a Manger. There's a full list for smaller chains at MSE.

Water Refill App

Medicines and Cosmetics

Did you know asthma inhalers can be recycled? Find your nearest participating pharmacy HERE.

Unopened, unused and out of date medicines can be returned to your pharmacy for safe disposal.

Mascara wands are used in animal sanctuaries around the world. Post your old ones to Plastic Freedom in Southport and they ship them out in bulk to places which need them.

If you return five empty Bodyshop (Cwmbran) tubs/jars/tubes/etc you'll get £5 store credit. Although it won't bag you any cash, you can also take in containers from other brands for recycling. Elsewhere, you can take five Lush (Cardiff) containers back for a free face mask and 10 to Kiehl's (Cardiff) for a free travel sized product. Return one to L'Occitane (Cardiff) for 10% off a full size product of your choice.

Unwanted or broken jewellery in gold or silver is easy to sell. Check out Sell Gold Comparison for the best price.

Give and MakeUp is a non-profit initiative for getting cosmetics, toiletries and other essentials to women in refuge centres. They accept both new and lightly used products (bar mascara and lip gloss), and you can send it to Escentual in Cardiff for distribution by Welsh Women's Aid, or get in touch with Cyfanol in Pontypool to ask what they are in need of locally.

Shaving isn't just a pain in the backside - it's a money sink and an environmental nightmare. The best way to go is an old fashioned metal safety razor from eco-friendly brands like Mutiny Shaving or Kairn. (Well, the real best way is just not to give a damn and let Mother Nature do her work.) For those of us who aren't quite brave enough, ever more companies are offering razor cartridge recycling schemes: Gillette, Friction Free Shaving, Gruum, etc.

27,000 trees are wiped out every day to make toilet paper. Do your bit to save the trees - and save yourself money! - by switching to Who Gives A Crap.

1/3 of the British population has experienced period poverty with the average spend coming in at £13 a month. Some options to consider include menstrual cups, period pants, reusable sanitary towels, and OHNE biodegradable tampons.

Ditch the make up wipes and invest in a flannel and a jar of cold cream. If Ponds was good enough for Queen Marie of Romania, it's good enough for me!

Wet Wipes Infographic

Shoes and Clothing

Torfaen School Uniform Donate and Swap. Does what it says on the tin. ;)

H&M (Newport) take a bag of any old clothes and textiles in return for £5 off a £30 shop. M&S (Cwmbran) will take their own brand clothing / textiles in return for £5 off a £35 shop. Other retailers offering similar schemes are Zara (Cardiff), The North Face (Bristol), and & Other Stories (Bristol).

Another option is to sign up to Thrift+ - they send you a freepost bag you fill with unwanted clothing. They then list it for sale online giving a third of proceeds to a charity of your choice, and a third to you in the form of store credits. Treasure House is a similar service for children's clothing.

Morsbags is a movement that transforms unwanted textiles into reusable bags. The bags are then given away free to encourage environmental awareness and community engagement. Find out more at their website! I always collect the free fabric bags handed out at fairs and stuff to use for gift bags too - if the design isn't pretty enough just cut the design off some old bedding / outgrown t-shirt / whatever and sew it on.

Moti in Cwmbran have a collection point for old trainers. They are then recycled or, if in good nick, distributed at homeless shelters. Nike (Gloucester) take trainers in any condition to be used to make things like tennis court surfaces. Runners Need (Bristol) also collect them and give you £20 store credit in return.

Smalls for All is a charity which provides underwear to women and children in poverty. They accept new pants and knickers, as well as 'gently worn' bras. You can post them yourself to Smalls for All, 108 Buchanan Crescent, Eliburn, Livingston, EH54 7EF or drop them off to Samantha Price in Varteg. Clean kids' underwear can also be donated to nurseries and infant schools as spares in the event of 'little accidents'.

If you don't want to think too much about what's happening to them afterwards, selling your used underwear and hosiery to fetishists can bring in a little extra income at £10+ per pair. Money Magpie has an article with all the basic info. (And, while we're on the topic, you can recycle your old vibrators with Ann Summers, Love Honey, and Sex Toys UK.)

All Creatures Great and Small in Llanfrechfa are always in need of old bedding and towels for the animals.

You can take unwanted glasses, cases and contact lenses to Specsavers in Cwmbran, or you can get a recycling pack from Vision Aid for £5.

We all know about the drawbacks of disposable nappies. Torfaen Council will give you a £30 voucher towards your first cloth nappies, redeemable at Fill Your Pants, Little Treasures or The Nappy Lady.

Cash4Clothes. They'll take your good quality clothes, shoes, belts, handbags, etc for 50p per kg. (NB. they won't take school/work uniforms or underwear.) They've got a unit in Cwmbran, on Oldbury Road near the Stadium - full details.

Clothes Aid Infographic

Electricals and Household

There are battery collection points at Spar stores, Wilkinsons, Poundland, Superdrug and all the supermarkets.

Currys / PC World (Cwmbran) will take electrical appliances, big and small, regardless of where you bought them from.

Leftover paint is a nightmare to get rid of. But get in touch with Sabrina Cresswell who will take it off your hands to paint scenery for am-dram productions based at Llanyravon Church.

B&Q (Cwmbran) will take plastic plant pots - just wash them out first. They'll also take half full paint tins, broken tiles and slabs, wood, and leftover wallpaper.

Use Compare and Recycle to get the best deal for your old mobile phone.

Companies will pay you to recycle your used printer ink cartridges. See The Recycling Factory for more.

Never throw out genuine Lego. Music Magpie and Zapper will buy even the most generic loose Lego by the bag, and there are loads of specialist Lego traders like Brick Bin and Bricktraders who will pay to take it off your hands.

Got a puncture in your paddling pool / rubber ring / inflatable chair? Instead of binning it send it off to Wyatt and Jack who will refund your postage - or courier it for you if it's large - and turn it into cool bags and accessories. Their bouncy castle range is awesome too!

NHS Wales Informatics in Mamhilad are collecting old pens, highlighters, markers and tippex for Terracycle.

Books, Games, CDs, DVDs... In addition to donating them, you can take them to Cash4Clothes in Cwmbran for 10p per kg or sell them on to a trade-in company. They're not a get rich quick scheme by any means, but I sold my CD collection to Ziffit when I was on maternity leave and it paid the gas bill. The ones they wouldn't take turned our living room into a wall of sound...

Recycle Your Used Stamps For Charity

For more like this check out:
Christmas Gift Appeals Top Ten Cashback Sites

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Send a Card, Give a Smile

Send a Card - Give a Smile

You can make a difference to someone's life for the price of a postage stamp. Send a stranger a card - birthday, holiday, or just because - and let them know that somebody out there is thinking of them.

Here are 20 organisations actively appealing for cards:

★ Apostleship of the Sea. Send a card to lift the spirits of a seafarer. (UK)

★ Cards for Hospitalised Kids. (USA)

★ Cardz for Kidz. Lift the spirits of hospitalised and / or traumatised children by delivering handmade cards. (Worldwide)

★ Letters to Strangers. Open up about mental help and hope for the future for young people. (USA)

★ Love for the Elderly. Write a one off letter to brighten someone's day. (USA)

★ More Love Letters. Make someone's day with a supportive message. (Worldwide)

★ Post Pals. Brightening the lives of sick children. (UK)

★ Postcrossing. Send and receive a postcard from a stranger. You can even do it for free with and the code JESSICAGJA6. (Worldwide)

★ Send a Smile For Kids. Handmade cards for children in hospital. (USA)

★ The Letter Project. Write a letter to encourage a girl to have faith in herself. (Worldwide)


★ Red Letter Days. Spread the love to UK care home residents. Send to Red Letter Days Campaign, c/o Keyboards & Dreams, Ground Floor, 34-35 Hatton Garden, EC1N 8DX.


★ Birthday Smiles. Send birthday cards to children with learning disabilities. (UK)

★ Cards of Hope. Birthday cards and / or letters of encouragement to children in care. (USA)

★ Sunshine Snail Mail. Families sign up with addresses for children who need a smile. (USA mostly)


★ #GivetoGive with Caroline Gardner. Really low effort way to spread Christmas cheer. (UK)

★ MHA Christmas Friendship Appeal. Send a card to a pensioner in a care home. (UK)

★ Prisoners Abroad. Send Christmas cards to British prisoners being held overseas. (UK based)

★ The Rainbow Cards Project. For LGBTQ+ people who have been estranged from their families. (UK based)

★ Get behind the #onemorecard campaign and send a card or two to your local care home.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Produced by DreamWorks, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power launched on Netflix in November 2018. We're already on season three! Still, the cartoon is very cute; I've been watching with Marianna and we all like it.

Mattel announced an accompanying doll line earlier this year and released a SDCC exclusive She-Ra and Shadow Weaver set to whet everybody's appetites. In July five character dolls followed, plus a She-Ra and Swift Wind double set. The dolls have a range of body types which means their heights slightly differ, but they're more or less in line with other current Mattel doll brands in terms of proportions.

The face molds are very cute, imo, and I wouldn't mind picking up a She-Ra at some point. My favourite character is Scorpia though, so fingers crossed the dolls stick around for a second wave!

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Dolls

★ Adora - box front / contents / back.
★ Bow - box front / contents / back.
★ Catra - box front / contents / back.
★ Glimmer - box front / contents / back.
★ She-Ra - box front / contents / back.

She-Ra Doll 2019

Battle Armor She-Ra and Swift Wind

★ Battle Armor She-Ra and Swift Wind - box front / back.

She-Ra vs Shadow Weaver SDCC Exclusive Dolls

★ She-Ra vs Shadow Weaver - box front / back.

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Monday, 12 August 2019

Broken Toy Recycling

Broken Toy Recycling

I've been bitten by the environmental bug! Basically, broken toys are recyclable. If we provide the facilities. Sure, in a perfect world, we wouldn't be making and buying plastic toys in the first place. But the world isn't perfect and, right now, I want to see the UK taking action to save broken toys from landfill.

Here's the text of my form letter I've been sending out:

I am writing to ask about broken toy recycling.

Toys in good condition can be reused and donated, and I think people are generally aware of where they can do this in their local area. When a toy reaches the end of its life however it almost invariably ends up in general waste headed for landfill.

But the constituent parts of toys can be recycled. In the USA toy companies Hasbro and MGAE have launched recycling schemes with Terracycle, whereby consumers can send back the relevant brands' toys to be broken apart and recycled. This material is then used to make things like benches for children’s play areas.

Within Europe there are companies like Eco Birdy ( who recycle toys to make plastic furniture for children. Although I’ve reached out to toy shops and manufacturers across the UK, none of them currently have such a recycling scheme in place.

Terracycle UK offer the service, but the price is prohibitive for individuals. (

I would ask that you look into working with companies that produce and sell toys in the UK to consider making such a scheme available, and to work with local authorities and public institutions like schools and libraries to provide public collection points for broken toys - as well as education on what happens to them afterwards.

Yours sincerely,
Jessica Powell


Jessica Powell

NP44 1QN

Sunday, 11 August 2019

This Week - 11/08/2019

Let your dreams be bigger than your fears

It's been a long week. Marianna decided to cut her own hair because, well, who knows? Just to add to the stress headache I feel like I've had for the last four and half years... Then we've had the battle between Marianna and Molly the puppy, endless whining about too much rain / not enough rain / the wrong kind of rain, pester power in action, etc, etc.

In the midst of it all I turned 31. I can't say it's any different to being 30, but I did get some lovely gifts and a cake, so it's not tall bad. Yesterday we went to the Meritor Cwmbran open day which was really interesting, and probably would have been more so if it wasn't accompanied by a constant refrain of 'I want to go on the trampoline NOW'.

Over on Facebook there's a new Zero Waste Torfaen group, and an offshoot website, which is really taking off. Take a look if you get chance. :) I'm planning a longer post about the many and varied ways you can recycle stuff in Torfaen, but this week I just focused on converting all the old Dan Can comic strips to image files instead of pdf.

On the blog I've written about my five favourite films of the 1940s, Poopsie Rainbow Surprise Dolls, and Spin Master's new Candylocks line.

Song of the Week -

For more like this, please click the image below:
This Week - Weekly Overviews

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